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Thread: Bitterness growing for 40 years

  1. #1
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Bitterness growing for 40 years

    I haven't posted on here in years, but it seems like a safe place given anonymity with people of all kinds of faiths and beliefs. I would be interested to hear people's thoughts on this. I think basically everyone's spiritual path teaches them that forgiveness is crucial. Not that you have to cater to the person who wronged you but you need to find forgiveness in yourself to give yourself freedom from bitterness. Theoretically speaking I know a person (gee, I wonder who that is) who has been married several decades. The person she is married to is a kind man, wouldn't hurt a flea and in his dreams would love to give anything and the moon to his wife. This husband also was very irresponsible throughout their marriage, did some things that completely lacked common sense, never really held a job that provided for the family, would hop from one thing to the next. After being buried in bills, very large bills that the wife was unable to pay from her own job that she worked overtime for many yrs at, the wife had had it. She began to think of ways to take her son and get out of the marriage. Then her husband became gravely ill and very dependent on her even more, so she couldn't just leave him. He had a kidney disease that left him on dialysis for several yrs. She had to work even harder and more hours to take care of the bills. He then got a transplant and resumed his life with periods of having setbacks from all the side effects of the meds he had to take, but he was able to function and was retrained for an occupation he could handle. He was still very irresponsible and never took action on all the big dreams he talked about. And never really held a steady job. He is a talker not a doer. And still a very kind loving man. The wife is now exhausted after several decades of not having a minute to think and always working and nothing in savings because of big medical bills. She will never be able to retire, and virtually they have nothing, not even a car, because he didn't pull his weight during the yrs he was well. She has grown bitter and has had a heart attack from stress, but picked herself up and forged onward. My question is - How do you get rid of the bitterness? We are at the age now it would never enter my mind to leave him. He is in poor health now and like I said, he is a good, kind man, just was irresponsible for many yrs. that left us with nothing. I literally cannot think of anything fun or romantic we have ever done together. At this point I don't look at him as a husband, more like a roommate I am supporting. We have never had a vacation, never go out to movies, out to dinner. We are frugal out of neccessity. We have been married for 40 years. Our friends are retired going on cruises, we have to borrow a car to go to Walmart. I am fortunate in that my boss a few yrs ago let me become a contractor so I can work from home now. I know this sounds like a giant pity party and so I don't talk about it with anyone. But on here at least because you don't know me I can spout off and you can don't have to read it if you don't want to. Has anyone faced this situation personally? What did you do? I am not looking for a way out, I would never leave him now at this age. How do you get rid of the bitterness? Being a caregiver, the breadwinner, doing everything on my own and working 50 plus hrs a week for many many yrs is taking its toll. Sorry this is so long and that I rambled.....Not looking for sympathy and not even a solution. I'm not sure there is one. Just wondering how other people have handled a situation like this personally.

  2. #2
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I recall Gabor Mate saying in his book "When the Body Says No" (Great book by the way*):

    “A therapist once said to me, 'If you face the choice between feeling guilt and resentment, choose the guilt every time.' It is wisdom I have passed on to many others since. If a refusal saddles you with guilt, while consent leaves resentment in its wake, opt for the guilt. Resentment is soul suicide."

    So, if you agree with that (I do), you have two choices: leave him and deal with the guilt or figure out a way to absolve yourself of the resentment. I think one thing you could do to start is to realize that you do bear some responsibility for where you two are. You could have left years ago, you can leave now, perhaps you enabled his irresponsibility in some way. I'm not saying you did, btw. It's just that each marriage is a dance and it's rare that one person is totally the victim.

    If you can admit accountability in any part of the situation that's making you so resentful, then you will be empowered to change it. You may want to talk to a therapist, a marriage counselor, or a spiritual mentor to help. The key is to recognize that you do have choices. The freedom in those choices is what can help dispel the resentment.

    I'm so sorry you are going through this. You need some support. You definitely are safe venting here.


    *Actually, I highly recommend this book. He goes deeply into the physical toll of repressed feelings and outlines the 7 "A's" of healing.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Thank you so much Catherine! I agree that I have been an enabler and should have been more consistant in laying down fair play rules. That was completely my fault. When he became sick, I felt like I would be abandoning him if I left, so I made the choice to stay. I have so many regrets that I am personally responsible for. I also agree you have to learn to live with either guilt or resentment. In my case I have chosen resentment and am trying to learn how to get rid of it. I heard another quote I especially like "No regrets, only lessons learned." Thank you for your listening ear. I actually was looking for a delete button because I felt stupid after ranting and whining. I'm not sure how to delete it though.

  4. #4
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Oh, and I will be looking up that book by Gabor Mate, thanks for the recommendation

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    Senior Member Sad Eyed Lady's Avatar
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    Do you love your husband? Even like him and enjoy being with him? If so, I would look for ways to get out of the crushing debt and you having to work so much cycle. I know it is not a pleasant road but there is bankruptcy for the debts. If they are going to be ongoing at that magnitude then that wouldn't be much help, but if not it would help you start with a "clean slate". I used to work for attorneys so I saw this happen many times with huge medical debt that just could not be paid. IF that would help, then look at paring down to the basics as we talk about so much in simple living. Not working more, but living with less. Your friends are retired, are you at that age too? Is there medical help from the government for your husband? If you can get some of this big stuff out of the way, then you could work on holding the status quo or even paring down more and more. Maybe have some time to enjoy a few things together. If not a cruise, then a weekend away somewhere close by. You keep saying he is a nice guy, that is something right there. You need out of some of the burden, I agree, but you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater - if you don't want to that is, and it doesn't seem like you want too. So, it seems like you have a base to work from but just need some help.
    "Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in the midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free." Leonard Cohen

  6. #6
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    Thank you for your insight Sad Eyed Lady. Some valuable information is there. To tell the truth I'm not sure if I love him. There were so many years of neglect of me and several years ago rumors of infidelity that somewhere along the line I think I just died inside towards my feelings towards him. I remember my mom describing him once as a man "who would get fired from a job because of irresponsibility, but the boss would like him so much they would stay friends." And that is the exactly the way he is...lol. He is an extremely likable man, but also no common sense. Once he hid some money on the bottom of the trash can "because no robber would think to look there". He caught me just as I was taking it to empty into the big trash can for the trash man to take. Actually, there is really no way to pare down. I cut my own hair, have not bought anything new to wear in years, we go no where because of lack of a car, etc. We don't eat expensively. Bankruptcy could be an option, but as a last resort. I just hate the thought of it when I can work. We finally got a $23,000 IRS tax bill paid off after several years and we do have ongoing medical bills. He had started a business and was unable to maintain it and the IRS fines and penalties accumulated. We are 63 now. He does get Medicare and disability now but there are a lot of co payments and one med is $350 a month plus his other 11 meds he takes. He was just in the hospital for 5 weeks and now the doctor, hospital, labs, etc. co pays are coming in every day. So I do need to take another look at our financial situation. I am blessed in so many ways I need to quit complaining and just keep biting the bullet. I just want to get rid of the resentment towards my husband.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corkym View Post
    I have so many regrets that I am personally responsible for. I also agree you have to learn to live with either guilt or resentment. In my case I have chosen resentment and am trying to learn how to get rid of it. I heard another quote I especially like "No regrets, only lessons learned."
    I think catherine offered excellent advice.

    As for getting rid of the resentment, you seem to be on the right path. All of us make decisions by evaluating what we know and what we feel will best serve us. Sometimes you don't have all the information you'd like to have to make a good decision; sometimes what serves us best in the short term is not what serves us best in the long term. Not to sound flippant, but that's life.

    You cannot change your past decisions or the outcome of those decisions so far. So there's no real value to expending more of your life energy on the resentment that's built up over the years. However, you can start making different decisions from this point forward. Give yourself some time to forgive your husband and yourself for whatever's happened that got you where you are now. Then start moving in the direction of making the best life you can from this time on.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  8. #8
    Senior Member corkym's Avatar
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    I so much agree with you on this Steve! That is my main focus now. I always have felt you can start right where you are no matter how deep the hole and start building a ladder to get out of it. These last few months I can't seem to find the ladder, but I so appreciate being reminded of this so I can get my thinking focused. I have let circumstances and fatigue cloud my vision.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    I am so sorry corkym. Your situation has similarities to a friend of mine. She and her husband started out very successful but a snowmobile accident left him unable to ever work again. They lost everything and there was a lot of everything. It was a harsh reality going from never having to worry about money and spending it freely to being under mountains of medical bills and renting an apartment. She went from owning a salon to working in one. Through the years I watched her change mentally and physically. She did nothing but go to work and go home. My husband also had a brain injury so we often talked about how hard it can be as the caregiver. The difference between us is that her husband hadn't been kind or giving before the accident and was even more self centered and resentful after losing everything. She took her "in sickness and in health" seriously, until she felt she could no longer go on feeling worked to the bone and unloved. She is in her mid 50's and couldn't envision the rest of her life being so empty. She also knew many would look at her as abandoning a sick man even though he is perfectly able to take care of himself with accommodation. She was so afraid to talk to anybody about her despair thinking everybody would ask "what about him?". She finally decided it was do or die and moved in with her mother because she couldn't afford to go any place else. After an initial period of being overwhelmed the transformation in her has been remarkable. She is now feeling hopeful and is taking better care of herself. She has lost weight and years seemed to have dropped away. She smiles and laughs and even though things are going to be hard financially for awhile she has the energy to do what she has to do to save herself. Even her adult son who lived through it all, understands and is supportive of her decision. I am so happy for her. Marriage shouldn't be a sentence to a life of hard labor with no possibility of parole.
    Life is short, you deserve better. Decide what you can do to achieve that for yourself because he is incapable of doing that for you.

  10. #10
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    corkym,

    From reading the conversation I see that a few people have already spoken up with their concern and ideas. So, I would like to begin by noting the compassion that is flowing in your direction. (My old Dad used to say "It doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down... it is how many times you get up again that really matters." Taking the boxing metaphor another step: Knowing the compassion is flowing towards you is like having your corner man during a Bout.)

    I suspect that the problems are both economic (Sad Eyed Lady suggested investigating bankruptcy) and emotional (depression?). One self-help resource for spouses of depressed persons is "Depression Fallout Message Board", a group on tapatalk.com

    There may be kidney patients and caregivers coping with problems similar to what you described. There is a Health Board discussion group devoted to kidney disorders, which I will attempt to link to:
    http://www.healthboards.com/boards/kidney-disorders

    Be Well, corkym

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